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Nintendo Responds To Last Story & Xenoblade Pleas With Indifference

the-last-story-airship.jpgYou may have heard some internet clamor recently over Wii owners taking amazing steps to support the release of a few choice titles here in North America. This has included mailing in small tokens like story pages or paper swords to Nintendo of America, in a sort of reverse-boycott known as Operation Rainfall. It can best be described as a bunch of rabid fans with money, trying to raise awareness and prove interest for the release of the Wii titles like Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower. The internet collective really started making it rain when they pushed an outdated listing for Xenoblade's old title, Monado, to the top of Amazon's most-preordered list. Having hundreds of gamers lay their credit cards on the line just in the hope of getting their favorite game on a boat to America has to be worth some response from Nintendo, right?

The response did come through, late last week, in a message on Nintendo's official Facebook. It read:

Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say "never," but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!

In other words: we appreciate your loyalty, but we know all you really want to buy is Wii Play and Zelda.

Xenoblade_EUR_Ltd_Box.jpgThe plot gets even sillier when one considers that Xenoblade is already fully translated: it's planned for release in September, but only in Europe. Would it really be so hard to put an ESRB logo over the PEGI one...?

I jest, of course--there has to be more to Nintendo's decision than spite. Sadly, all we have to go on is history, and the Wii recent history has been telling. Sin & Punishment 2 got a fair-sized marketing campaign, but didn't end up taking off like NoA hoped--though that's likely more a result of its arcade style and hardcore-only appeal than the American market in general. No More Heroes was another high-budget Wii title that's now relegated to the status of cult classic, rather than system seller.

Nintendo's reluctance to push Wii exclusives for core gamers, even while explicitly including those fans in the recent WiiU pitch, is bizarre to say the least. But astute gamers will remember this isn't the first time NoA has looked down and whispered, "no." They've also been steadily silent on the idea of rereleasing Earthbound or its sequel Mother 3, despite a large and affluent fanbase such as evidenced by Starmen.net. We've had years to speculate on that one, and everything from Beatles music to sales figures have been presented as evidence in the court of public opinion. It also may be last third-party title on which Nintendo spent a significant amount of marketing, back in 1995, only to have it sell pitifully in the pre-Playstation era of RPGs.

Contrast that with the Rainfall-focused games: approachable RPGs from popular directors. The sales of FFXIII last year more than prove there's a market for beautiful JRPGs; Sakaguchi's Last Story and Tetsuya Takahashi's Xenoblade should be hot in the minds of American fans. There's money on the table, if only NoA would put its chips down.

I'm no Nintendo-hater - I've owned a Wii since day one and couldn't bring myself to give up on it at any point. (Sure, it's more of a Smash Bros. machine, but that's where we're at now.) I just wish, more than anything, that Nintendo of America would offer some heart-to-heart talk about why it makes these sorts of decisions. Transparency is a long way off for any modern company, but it seems like it's only Nintendo fans who get all the benefits of a messy breakup with none of the closure.

As a (possibly) final farewell, hit the jump for some gameplay of Xenoblade's early levels, along with annotations on combat and the beautiful world surrounding the Monado. If you're in Europe, look forward to playing this in September and The Last Story sometime next year. If you're in America, well... keep writing!

10 Comments

I still don't quite understand why it's Nintendo's sole responsibility to be the company that pushes all of these other developers' games into America?

It's not a wise business move to take a chance on these games that, historically, don't sell well on the Wii. Please name for me the last epic RPG you played on the Wii? As somebody who owns dozens of Wii games, the closest I can get are Zelda and Dokapon Kingdom.

Yeah, I buy all the weird games. The No More Heroes, the Sin and Punishments, the Mad World's, etc. But those games just don't look like they're going to sell well on the system. It's simple business, and nothing else. Don't take it personally: this isn't a slight against fans.

Before you get mad, just ask yourself: Why is it Nintendo's responsibility to bring over other games? Why are we not asking Atlus or NIS, companies who do this thing as their business model, to pick up these titles? It just seems like barking up the wrong tree is all.

ironmouse said:

As someone who's in the euro zone (Australia) I'm so glad these games will be available for me to play!
I was so worried that I would miss out (e.g. I was looking forward to Phantom Brave Wii to come out, but it never got euro release) as my first assumption was that a game (or in this case, these games) like this would be skipped completely for euro players, and will end up being Japan/US releases only.

I'm also looking forward to all those various english accents in the game :)

faePuck said:

Hate to break it to you, Randy, but there are reasons why third party publishers can't touch these AAA titles outside of Japan: there's evidence that Nintendo has exclusive worldwide publishing rights.

It's not the kind of deal that gets talked about in public, but there are other examples of it, as well: Atlus wanted to translate and publish Mother 3, but Nintendo blocked them. Being a platform holder does have its advantages, after all.

Before you get mad, consider that Nintendo only serves to gain, whether they're publishing these titles or collecting licensing & royalties if they give it to a third party. Either way, the decision is ultimately with the folks who wield the Official Nintendo Seal, and that's who gamers are appealing to now.

Being a Uker I can't wait to play Xenoblade myself :D - but why we get that [and TLS] and those of you in the Americas get nothing at all is really strange indeed.

Translating games really isn't an issue in this day and age - just look at the dual western release of FFXIII, and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn last year came out here in Europe mere weeks after its US debut.

... Why Eathbound / Mother fans expect Nintendo to release a sequel to a game that bombed so much in the west the first time still puzzles me to this day though. They kinda need to shut up and let it rest already [especially when SSB still caters to said rabid fandom anyway].

Nexus said:

So you mean we Europeans will get them after all?
Jackpot!

For once it pays to be a European gamer.
America? This is what it felt like as a European gamer in the 90's. And sometimes even now still.
Sucks, don't it?

Zeta said:

This makes me really reconsider any plans to purchase a Wii U. It's clear Nintendo doesn't care anything for any market but the ultra-casual. So I question whether any further investment into their merchandise (when they haven't released a decent title for a year at this point) would be rise.

ironmouse said:

If Nintendo didn't stubbornly stick with their ridiculous region locking, this wouldn't be an issue, and I still don't understand how region locking "helps" the consumer! It only helps Nintendo (though even then, I'm not sure how, as they would potentially miss out on getting money from a region full of players!)

Akamaru said:

At a time when the Wii could use all the decent games it can get, Nintendo pulls a stunt like this, then follows up with a bullshit rebuttal.

I don't get it. I most certainly will not buy another Nintendo product after being burned by the Wii and now 3DS. Seriously, this game looks pretty cool judging by the video... at a time when the Wii desperately need games they aren't going to release it in the US...

Oh well, their loss...I'll just give Microsoft my money instead. They seem to be trying to take it from me, unlike Nintendo.

ecco6t9 said:

Right now. NoA is treating the Wii like how Sega of America treated the Saturn.

Shin Gallon said:

Nintendo: "Money? For us? No, no thank you, we don't want that silly stuff."
Seriously, I don't want to hear a single person bitching when I download this game and play it. You can't claim it's a "lost sale" when it's not something they're selling here.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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